Ephemera are such great little motivators. There’s a sense of urgency in my bones telling me to hurry, my blood pulsing morse code, saying “this is your chance.”
It was all lining up. I had the day off, and a kitschy Bernie sweater to proudly wear. Time to feel it. I went alone, which only felt strange while I was standing in line. This was very much a Greenpoint rally, so many attendees were in their slick winter/spring transitional coats, and I couldn’t elicit much excited conversation from my line neighbors. Greenpoint is like Williamsburg’s more mature, classier cousin, so you are met with similar indifference and judgement based on whether you are a)recognizable from around the neighborhood or b)wearing something interesting. I was rocking a 90’s grunge high schooler, a la My So-Called Life. It was chilly, and there was not a lot of blue Bernie gear going on. Thank god for the waitress from River Styx, who came out with a tray of free black coffees.
Walking in, I met a volunteer at the gate, who was the first to complement my sweatshirt. I signed up for a shift in Gowanus, and stood in line to receive a poster. Having a poster is like being a mascot. You’re enough of a commodity to make you feel proud and strangely patriotic, but are also asked to lend your poster to strangers for photos. Two girls asked me, and proceeded to give me the designated phone with the camera set to selfie mode. I went to take a picture, the blonde saying and laughing, “I guess you can take a picture of yourself.” To which in my indignation I replied, “I’m sorry, I thought I was taking a picture of you, with my sign.”
Millennial psychology is pretty twisted, sometimes. I struggle with defining myself as a millennial, objecting mostly because a 30-year old has a concept of how the political climate shifted after the events of 9-11 and the Iraq War. But I buy in and accept from time to time.
I took a picture of this man, holding his homemade defamation poster board, and scored Instagram gold by being the only attendee to accept this man’s plea. Ambivalence towards a candidate and choosing the lesser of two evils issue have always been true factors in the past as far as choosing political candidates is concerned. Poor Hillary, whose consistent lack of transparency makes me wither from supporting her at this point, but I’d be crazy not to vote for our first woman president if she does win the nomination. They kept clicking, one random, anti-Hillary high schooler after the other, all to the appeal of the fans of Occupy Wall Street Movement. I get it. Bernie has got us by the heartstrings.
A lot of things have changed for me since moving to New York, and me attending my first political rally was a product of many of the changes. Subconsciously I needed to be in a new place for my 30th birthday, physically and spiritually. The idea was to have something kick my ass, and be stepping towards my more ideal self. It was romantic as a teen to believe that balancing multiple artistic pursuits would be the ultimate achievement, and somehow easy. The struggle of being pretty good at many things, and master of none, was, as is forever, a battle of ego and competence over time. Romantic, yes, but difficult. I have whispered to dear friends of working with Dzieci Theatre, and articulating it in written word feels trivial. In a city that is like an open nerve it is a sanctuary, a space for constant (and required) self-examination, and in such a way that extends beyond creating a character, and bleeding into my everyday life. It is true to its roots of paratheatre, in seeking the via negativa, of finding pathways to our true inner impulses through repetition of exercises and rituals. The aim is transformation of the actor, and the core of constant self-questioning assists continual confrontation of all the unknowns that arise. What do I need? How am I affecting others? How do I really feel, and will I let myself feel it? What are my habits, and how do I react when they creep in? What’s deeper? This list of questions and queries feels so comfortable in light of my Quaker upbringing, and feels a natural lineage, so much so I understand why my mother found Quakerism after years of theatre.
Turning 30 is a milestone of the mind, and it has come in such an unexpected way. Years ago, Rachel Greene and Friends-era dating psychology scared me into turning 30. It’s ludicrous to think that she wasn’t SO GLAD to be done with the roller coaster of her twenties. The number was so far and away that I conceived I’d be able to cast away my body type, and have transformed into a Barbie doll version of myself, famous for playing jazz flute. Damn oversimplified rom coms. I’m realizing that with age peels away layers of tunnel vision from childhood. So now the baby girl Doyle is 30. My skin feels on, though stretched a bit from some extra padding, and my brain and emotions function in a way I can often recognize. This road to adulthood, to the ideal self, to self-actualization, or whatever we want to call it, is all this same routine. I choose something, and I ride the wave. Maybe I pick up a great job. Maybe I willingly and unexpectedly fall in love. But dammit, I made the choice, and living more consciously feels fucking good. Remaining unconscious is easy, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it took me so long to leave my dear home in California.
Which brings me back to the Bernie rally, standing at the front of the fence perimeter with excited blood. We were dancing to keep warm, including Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and Traci Chapman’s “Talking About a Revolution“. Periodically the sun would emerge from the clouds, and we’d cheer for the miracle of warmth. Maybe two little birds would land on his podium this time. I was hoping he’d arrive on the East River Ferry, by sea plane, or at least helicopter. After a couple hours of hubbub and whispers that he was on his way from Flatbush, here comes Susan Sarandon with a newsboy cap. Then Bernie, minutes later, appearing from behind the brick warehouse on the far right, Jane on his arm and agents in tow. Energy and shouting, passion, and so much joy. The rock star was here, 50 feet away. I cheered more when he really locked into his stump speech, out of recognition that I agreed with him, though he never delves specifically into policy details or the personal story of an individual American worker by name, like our friend Barack. We were in the palm of his hand, as his hair flew in the wind in front of the skyline.
Good luck, Bernie. I hope New York chooses you today.